I Am Sam is a dramatic film that was released in 2001. Sean Penn plays Sam Dawson who is struggling to raise his daughter alone after her mother walked out on them. This is more than a typical story however, as Sam is actually developmentally disabled. Sam has done a good job of raising his daughter, Lucy but it turns out that as she grows up her mental abilities soon began to surpass his. Lucy gets teased a lot by the children in her neighborhood about her father but she still loves him.
Lucy's mother decides to sue for custody and a social worker arrives at Lucy's house to investigate in preparation for the case. When she discovers that Lucy's father is developmentally disabled, she takes the child away. Sam decides that he must get a lawyer so he hires Rita Harrison. Rita is a woman who has been criticized by many as having a cold and unfeeling so she decides to take on Sam's case pro bono to change people's feelings about her.
While they are working on the case, Sam and Rita begin a close, friendly bond. Rita has a lot of difficulties in her life. Her husband cheats on her constantly and her relationship with her son is terrible. Sam helps her begin to repair her relationship her son and encourages her to get a divorce. The court case is extremely trying for Sam. His wife's attorney is brutal to him when he gets on the witness stand and Sam breaks down his court. He is convinced that he will not be a good father to Lucy and is heartbroken.
The trial ends and Lucy is sent to live in a foster home. Lucy is devastated by not being able to live with her father anymore. She tries to get Sam to run away with her but he does not allow. There are many times when Lucy escapes from the foster home in the middle of the night. Every time she does that, she goes to her father's apartment but he always makes her return to the foster home. Sam truly wants to ensure that Lucy is cared for.
Lucy is adopted by a foster family who respects the bond that she has with Sam. They decide to share custody with Sam and Lucy begins to spend a lot of time with him again. This allows her to have the best of both worlds.